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St. Maarten government does not commit to paying full cost-of-living-adjustment


~ Unions to submit advice via GOA ~

PHILIPSBURG–Unions representing civil servants, teachers, police and immigration personnel did not get the commitment they were looking for during Thursday’s meeting with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and three other ministers.

The unions wanted government to commit to paying 100 per cent of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2011 and 2012, and have it indexed to the salaries of their members.

Education Minister Patricia Lourens, Finance Minister Martin Hassink and Infrastructure Minister Maurice Lake attended the meeting held in the Dr. A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall at the Government Administration Building.

Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) President Dearie Leonard said government maintained its standpoint with the 50 per cent payment that has been included in the still-to-be-finalised 2013 budget. She said that the WICSU/PSU “will not accept” a 50 per cent payment. “They [government-Ed.] are sticking to their standpoint and the unions are sticking to their standpoint,” Leonard said.

In addition to WICSU/PSU, Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) and the NAPB unions were also at the meeting.

WITU President Claire Elshot said the unions were told that as long as the budget is not finalised, government cannot give a firm commitment. She said unions were told the best government can do is the 50 per cent for 2011, that has been included in the draft 2013 budget. Government listened to the unions and the unions listened to government.

Elshot said the unions tabled the position of its membership at the meeting and indicated that 100 per cent is all that workers will accept.

She said the unions had received government’s proposal on the COLA via the Advisory Body for Civil Servants Issues GOA, and a request for advice. She said the unions will now have to respond to government’s proposal via the GOA.

A press release issued by the Department of Communications said the Council had briefed the unions “on the current precarious financial situation” of government as well as the status of the Budget 2013 as it relates to government’s decision for the COLA payment.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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